A portion of a letter from Mimi Yahn, author of the Putney article that inspired many of us, in response to her reading HWFC’s DOL and Sweeney’s letters. She authorized its sharing and public posting.
Wonderful letter from former Commissioner Sweeney. As for the Dowling letter — wow. It certainly hits all the same buzzwords and loaded jargon that CDS used in both Putney and Brattleboro. “Modernizing” is a popular one — used repeatedly to justify dismantling current bylaws, cooperative principles, democratic governance, etc. “Complex and dated governance structure” is another, along with “transition[ing] certain aspects of its business,” “governance review,” “new staffing plan,” and “new leadership” (presumably this last refers to CDS being the new leadership).
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A major tactic of CDS across the country is to play on peoples’ fears — fear of losing money, losing customers, being sued, being old-fashioned, out of step, out of touch, unprofessional, etc. They also hold out just the right carrots to get boards & GMs to “drink the Kool-Aid”; for example, paying GMs high salaries completely out of line with cooperative principles and other workers’ salaries, assuring board members they’re becoming “professional” and are now members of an elite few who are much smarter and far more knowledgeable than any of the rank and file coop members, and painting very effective scenarios of turning their coop into the biggest, grandest, hippest emporium of upscale organic food in the region, and all thanks to the boards’ terrific acumen and modern vision.
How fortunate that this is the time of year when “The Wizard of Oz” is being replayed endlessly on TV. If you haven’t watched it in a while, the terrific scene with Toto exposing the “wizard” behind the curtain is a pertinent representation of how CDS operates; we do need to call their bluff.
Thanks so much to all of you for standing up to this co-optation, perversion and corporatization of cooperative governance!
Member of the Putney, Brattleboro & Springfield Coops